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Bajrang Lal creates history with rowing gold

By The Assam Tribune

GUANGZHOU, Nov 19 (PTI): Bajrang Lal Takhar created history by notching up the first rowing gold medal in Asian Games as the rowers fetched three more medals for India while the shooters chipped in with a bronze on a productive seventh day of competitions here today.

Apart from Bajrang Lal�s gold in men�s singles scull, the Indian men�s eight team grabbed silver and the women claimed the pair bronze to make it a very fruitful day at the International Rowing Centre here.

The shooters, who have been a pale shadow of themselves at the Aoti shooting range, accounted for a bronze with Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Mansher Singh and Zoravar Singh Sandhu finishing third in the men�s team trap event.

With the addition of four medals in the morning session, India�s medal tally climbed to two gold, eight silver and ten bronze. India had finished tenth on the medals table in the last Asian Games in Doha with a tally of 10-17-26.

Commonwealth champion Dinesh Kumar also had a good as he became the second Indian boxer to assure himself of a medal by advancing to the light heavyweight 81kg semifinals after out-punching Korean Jinho Heo. Paramjeet Samota was the first Indian to assure himself of a bronze by reaching the semifinals of 91+ weight category.

Two other boxers � Vikas Krishan and V Santosh Kumar � also won their respective bouts to cruise into the quarter finals.

Star tennis player Sania Mirza toppled 6th seed Chinese Shuai Zhang to seal a quarter-final berth in the women�s singles while Somdev Devvarman and Karan Rastogi routed their rivals to move into pre-quarterfinals of the men�s singles.

The women�s hockey team also kept themselves in the reckoning for a bronze medal with a thumping 13-0 victory over minnows Thailand but star cuiest Pankan Advani, who fetched India�s first gold medal, was knocked out of the snooker singles competition by China�s Junhui Ding.

It was the 29-year-old Bajrang Lal, an army man, who stole the spotlight today by fetching the second gold medal for India.

Takhar led the 2000m race from start to finish and rowed his way to the gold with a few lengths of boats to spare in 7 minutes and 4.78 seconds.

The gold, that followed the two silver medals won in the men�s light weight 4s and 4s event yesterday, took the medal haul from rowing to five.

Rajasthan-born Bajrang Lal, who won Asian championship gold last year in Korea and was the pre-event favourite, was followed across the finish line by Chinese Taipei�s Wang Ming Hui (7:07.33), who took the silver, and Iraq�s Haeider Hamarasheid (7:10.10), who won the bronze.

�I won silver in the 2006 Asian Games. I had prepared for four years to fight for the gold medal today. I knew I would make it,� Takhar said.

Later the women�s duo of Pratima Puhana and Pramila Minz, both in their teens, grabbed the pairs bronze in 7 minutes and 47.50 seconds, well behind gold medal winners China, who crossed the finish line far ahead in 7:22.06.

The rowing event came to an end with the Indian men�s eight team clinching the silver, by clocking 5:49.50, way behind hosts China who timed 5:37.44, but well ahead of bronze medal winners Uzbekistan (5:55.96).

The Indians � Lokesh Kumar, Satish Joshi, Saji Thomas, Jenil Krishnan, Anil Kumar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav, Manjeet Singh and Girraj Singh � finished more than a boat and half length ahead of the third-placed team.

India�s veteran shooting trio of Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Mansher Singh and Zoravar Singh Sandhu managed to edge out hosts China by one point for the team bronze medal in the men�s trap event.

The Indian trap members logged 341 points, with Asian record holder Manavjit leading the way, which enabled them to finish one point ahead of China (340).

However the women�s trap team of Shagun Chowdhary, Seema Tomar and Shreyasi Singh failed to finish on the podium. The three finished fourth with a score of 181, a point behind bronze-medallists Korea.

India�s women�s hockey team scored their second win when they thrashed Thailand 13-0. Skipper Surinder Kaur scored four goals while Rani found the net thrice.

India had earlier lost to Japan (0-3) and Korea (0-1) while they had beaten Malaysia (4-0). They now have six points and stand fourth in the group A standings.

More good news came for the Indian contingent from Aaoti Tennis centre where, Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Karan Rastogi won their respective singles matches. Unseeded Sania toppled sixth seed Chinese Shuai Zhang 6-2 6-2 to seal a quarterfinal berth in the women�s singles second round.

Second seed Somdev and seventh seed Karan demolished Jabor Mohammed Al Mutawa of Qatar and Myalikkuli Mamedkuliyev of Turkmenistan respectively with an identical 6-0 6-0 scoreline to move into the men�s singles pre-quarterfinals.

India�s receding hopes in cue sports suffered a major blow today when billiards event gold medallist Pankaj Advani was knocked out of the snooker singles competition by China�s Junhui Ding but compatriot Aditya Mehta kept the Indian challenge alive by sailing into the quarterfinals.

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